cudgel


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cudgel (one's) brains

To try very hard to comprehend, solve, think of, or remember something. I was up all night cudgeling my brains for a way to pay off all my debts. She cudgeled her brains to remember the man's name.
See also: brain, cudgel

take up the cudgels (on behalf of someone or something)

To defend, show strong support for or argue on behalf of someone or something. People from across the country are taking up cudgels on behalf of the young man being held by police. He's got plenty of money to hire a proper legal team; I don't think he needs the likes of us taking up the cudgels.
See also: behalf, cudgel, of, take, up

take up the cudgels (for someone or something)

To defend, show strong support for or argue on behalf of someone or something. People from across the country are taking up cudgels for the young man being held by police. He's got plenty of money to hire a proper legal team; I don't think he needs the likes of us taking up the cudgels.
See also: cudgel, take, up

take up arms (against someone or something)

to prepare to fight against someone or something. Everyone in the town took up arms against the enemy. They were all so angry that the leader convinced them to take up arms.
See also: arm, take, up

rack one's brain

Also, cudgel one's brains. Strain to remember or find a solution, as in I've been racking my brain trying to recall where we put the key, or He's been cudgeling his brains all day over this problem. The first term, first recorded in 1583 as rack one's wit, alludes to the rack that is an instrument of torture, on which the victim's body was stretched until the joints were broken. The variant, from the same period, uses cudgel in the sense of "beat with a cudgel" (a short thick stick). Shakespeare used it in Hamlet (5:1): "Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not bend his pace with beating." Also see beat one's brains out.
See also: brain, rack

take up arms

Also, take up the cudgels. Become involved in a conflict, either physical or verbal, as in The Kurds took up arms against the Iranians at least two centuries ago, or Some believe it's the vice-president's job to take up the cudgels for the president. The first term originated in the 1400s in the sense of going to war. The variant, alluding to cudgels as weapons, has been used figuratively since the mid-1600s and is probably obsolescent.
See also: arm, take, up

take up the cudgels

or

take up the cudgel

If you take up the cudgels for someone or take up the cudgel for them, you speak or fight in support of them. The trade unions took up the cudgels for the 367 staff who were made redundant. We are hoping that the government will take up the cudgel on our behalf. Note: A cudgel was a short, thick stick that was used as a weapon in the past.
See also: cudgel, take, up

cudgel your brain (or brains)

think hard about a problem.
This expression was used by Shakespeare in Hamlet: ‘Cudgel thy brains no more about it’.
See also: brain, cudgel

take up the cudgels

start to support someone or something strongly.
See also: cudgel, take, up

take up the ˈcudgels for somebody/something

,

take up the cudgels on behalf of somebody/something

(old-fashioned, written) start to defend or support somebody/something: The local newspapers have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the woman who was unfairly dismissed from her job because she was pregnant.
A cudgel is a short thick stick that is used as a weapon.

take up the cudgels

To join in a dispute, especially in defense of a participant.
See also: cudgel, take, up
References in periodicals archive ?
THE Queen went pheasant shooting for the second day running yesterday - and angered animal rights groups by carrying a foot-long wooden cudgel to kill off any birds not shot dead.
Courts will no longer be able to use taws criminalizing same-sex intercourse as a cudgel against gay people in cases dealing with a wide range of issues, such as adoption by same-sex parents and workplace discrimination.
Overall he opens a path for understanding the Bible as a conveyance for God's loving Word today rather than as a cudgel with which to bludgeon those with whom we might disagree.
We will cudgel our brains to prevent loans (to them) from going bad,'' Kudo added.
After all, the goal of Truman and other Cold War presidents was not to defeat but to "contain" -- that is, control -- the Communist enemy, and use the threat of nuclear annihilation to cudgel Americans into accepting a UN-brokered new world order.
For decades, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, otherwise known as the SAT has towered over students and served as a political cudgel against poorly funded schools.
You won't have to cudgel your memory for details of your past successes.
The corporate sector has in many instances picked up the cudgel.
Oscar, all twinkling feet and panache around the box, became the new darling of Stamford Bridge, but the caveman's cudgel was a blunt instrument.
Bennett took up the cudgel vacated by the injured Matthew Rees Down Under and the onus is on him again.
In this thoughtful book, the authors have taken up the cudgel with regard to homophobia in education, as it affects both students and teachers.
Many still suspect that the 'hakapiks' used to cudgel seals often do not kill them, and that hunters end up skinning many seals alive - an appalling death.
Here, too, "data quality" was merely a cudgel by which to block the government from considering good science when making policy.
Authority is, among other things, moral authority, and it is forfeited when affiliation is enforced at the business end of a cudgel.
But senior members of the Democratic Party took a sharply partisan cudgel to Gingrich on Thursday.